Iloilo City — The protests against the coal-fired power plant here continued to mount after the management of the company denied that foul-smelling emissions came from their facility during a test run last month.
Several student protesters on Wednesday disrupted the regular session of the city council after they unfurled banners and shouted slogans against the operation of the coal-fired power plant of the Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC).
One of the protesters, James Sanguino, chairperson of the Panay chapter of the militant youth group Anakbayan, was briefly detained at the Iloilo City police station for disrupting the proceedings and for alarm and scandal. He was released after posting a P500 bail.
The protesters had called on the city council, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop the operation and the test runs of the coal plant until a thorough investigation of the cause of the foul emissions is conducted.
The city council through its environment committee is conducting an investigation on the emissions.
The residents of barangay Ingore in La Paz District here had complained of intense foul odor, similar to the smell of burnt rubber, during the test-run of the plant’s steam blower facility.
Ingore village chief Ernie Poral earlier said several residents many of them children were stricken ill and hospitalized because of the emissions.
The PEDC, a unit of the Metrobank subsidiary Global Business Power Corporation, is constructing a 164-megawatt coal plant in barangay Ingore in La Paz District. The plant is scheduled to go online by Dec. 30 this year.
The DENR had ordered a stop to the testing until the PEDC has explained the cause of the emissions. But the PEDC has repeatedly denied that the emissions came from their facility.
“Based on the procedures undertaken by the contractor Formosa Heavy Industry Inc. no such smell could have resulted in the boiling-out process or the steam blowing process of our First Boiler Unit during our testing period,” PEDC corporate communications manager Anna Medina said in an earlier statement sent to the Inquirer. Medina explained that clean water was used during the testing period and the foul smell could not have emanated from the steam released from the smoke stack.
The PEDC said it would conduct a new round of testing on Oct. 11 to show the viability of its plant. But groups opposing the plant said DENR should review the environmental certificate of compliance issued to the coal plant. /INQUIRER